Sunday 30 September 2018

Last Day of ChaBooCha Lite! #ChaBooChaLite #ChaBooCha

Today is the last day of the ChaBooCha Lite challenge. How have you done? Have you reached your target? If your first draft complete? Let me know in the comments below.

And now, let's get to the prize winners:

  Winner of a copy of "Shakespeare: A book of Quotations" is Anita Banks.


 Winner of a  "working" book cover, created by me, is saputnam.


Winner of  a copy of "Write To Be Heard - Write Like You Talk: Help With Voice, Character, Dialogue... and more" by Aaron D. Gansky is Anita Banks.

Winner of Melissa Stoller's debut chapter book, "The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return to Coney Island" is Melissa Gijsbers.

Congratulations to all the prize winners! E-mail me your mailing address and I will, eventually, get your prize sent out to you.

Friday 28 September 2018

Get rid of your self-doubt and finish your book #ChaBooChaLite #ChaBooCha

One thing that every writer has in common is that we all go through periods of self-doubt. We wonder if we are good enough, if our stories are good enough, and often times we decide that we aren't and that they aren't. This defeatist attitude can keep many of us from ever finishing our stories. Some of us will finish our first drafts and then decide that our writing just isn't good enough and stop there.

But every writer, even many famous ones, is plagued by doubts. It's not just the obscure, never-read authors who doubt their abilities.

"It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous." ~Robert Benchley 
"I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly." ~Edgar Rice Burroughs 
“Is the time coming when I can endure to read my own writing in print without blushing—shivering and wishing to take cover?” ~Virginia Woolf 
"You have to resign yourself to the fact that you waste a lot of trees before you write anything you really like, and that's just the way it is." ~JK Rowling 
"Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel sh*t from a sitting position." ~Stephen King

And no book is ready to go out into the world by the first draft. It's what we do after that counts. We have to edit our books, sometimes revise large portions of them, and then get someone else, preferably a professional, to edit them some more. There is a massive amount of work that goes into a book after the first draft is written before it reaches publication.

So don't despair if you are doubting yourself and your ability to write. It really is all in your head.

Happy writing!



Melissa Stoller has generously offered her debut chapter book, THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION: RETURN TO CONEY ISLAND as a prize for one lucky person. If you are signed up for ChaBooChaLite and you comment on this post, you will be entered into the drawing for the prize. The winner will be chosen by a random number generator on September 30th.

Monday 24 September 2018

One week to go! #ChaBooChaLite #ChaBooCha

Only one week left to finish your story! Are you close to finishing it yet? If you are finding it is getting more difficult to write the story as you get further into it, let the picture above help you.

First, look at the typewriter. Most of us use laptops and desktop computers now, but have you considered writing one chapter using a different device or in a different way just to give your brain a jump start? Maybe get out a notebook and write out one chapter by hand. You'll be surprised how helpful it can be when you are feeling stumped at the computer, plus you get the bonus of being able to edit it a bit when you type it all into the computer later.

Next, look at the camera. Is your story set locally? Or is it set in nature? Go out and take some photos. Use them as references while you write. Is there a wild animal in your story? Go to the zoo and watch it's natural behaviour. Take photos of it. Think about how to use what you've seen in your story.

Third, look at the hourglass. Are you having trouble finding time to write? Try setting up some timed writing sprints. Set a timer and spend 15 minutes writing, if that's all the spare time you can manage. Even writing for just 15 minutes a day can get you a considerable amount of writing built up by the end of the month.

We've just had the Autumn Equinox (last Sunday), so maybe take a break from your writing for an hour or two and just go walk amongst the fallen leaves and take in the nature that is around you.

I hope your story has grown during this month's challenge, and for many of you, that it has taken you in directions you had not originally planned (that's part of the fun). Let me know in the comments how you are doing and how far your story has progressed.

Happy writing!

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Dialogue in Chapter Books by Melissa Stoller #ChaBooChaLite #ChaBooCha


In chapter books, authors use a combination of dialogue and description to hook the reader and move the story forward. When writing dialogue in chapter books, several factors must be taken into consideration, including the style of language used, the goal of the writer to show action, humor and heart, and the objective of portraying readable dialogue.

When crafting dialogue in chapter books, the age of the reader, usually between four to nine, is important. The language should be easily understood although there can be challenging words as well. And the sentence structure should be relatively uncomplicated for this age group. The speech patterns of the characters should give the reader a clue about the characters’ personalities and goals. And the dialogue can show action in the story through the indication of body language and movement. Also, humor and heart can shine through solid dialogue, especially when the writer includes specific and interesting details.

To draft dialogue accurately, try some of the following tips. Place yourself in situations where you can observe children. Listen to your own children or grandchildren, or the kids of friends. Volunteer at a local school, library, or bookstore. Observe children on the playground or in restaurants. Notice what they are saying to each other and to those around them and take notes. Those snippets of conversations could fit right in to your next chapter book manuscript. Also, read current chapter books and consider how authors write the dialogue in their books. You can read the dialogue aloud to hear how it sounds and what the words convey. Finally, think like a child. Write the dialogue as a child would speak, not how an adult would converse. Keep the dialogue authentic, interesting, and easy to understand.

Here are three examples of snappy dialogue in recent chapter books:

Maddy McGuire, CEO: Pet Camp, By Emma Bland Smith, Illustrated by Lissie Marlin (ABDO Publishing, 2018)(this dialogue sets up the pet camp plot. Vivid details and movement help draw the reader in and make the idea believable).  

            “We can run a summer camp!”
            “You can’t run a camp. You’re not a grown-up.”
            “I could do it! Mom would help me.”
At least Maddy hoped she would.
            “Actually, that’s a pretty good idea,” said Drew. “School is almost over, so the timing is right. It could have a theme. Like coding!” Drew had been to a coding camp last summer.
            Maddy jumped up. “No, not coding. It has to be something I’m really into.”
            “Okay, then what?” asked Drew.
            She looked at her red horse notebook. She jingled the animal charms on her bracelet. She glanced at the stuffie basket. It overflowed with kittens, puppies, and rabbits.
            “Pet camp!” she shouted.

Warren & Dragon: 100 Friends, by Ariel Bernstein, Illustrated by Mike Malbrough (Puffin Books, 2018)(the personality of Dragon already shines, as he eats his marshmallow and huffs and puffs. Also, the heart of the story about friendship and the sibling relationship is evident even in this brief dialogue).

            “I don’t mind moving,” I say. And it’s true. I won’t have to listen to our neighbor Ms. Reilly call me “Warri-Boo” anymore.
            “That’s because you don’t have any friends.” Ellie says.
            “That’s not true!” I do not say it might be true. “Dragon is my friend.”
            “Dragon isn’t real.”
            “I am so offended,” Dragon says in between bites of marshmallow.
            Ellie shakes her head. She looks a lot like Mom when she does that.
            “You shouldn’t offend Dragon. He gets scary when he’s offended.”
            Dragon huffs and puffs as best he can.

Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen, by Debbi Michiko Florence, pictures by Elizabet Vukovic (Farrar Straus Giroux Book for Young Readers, 2017) (this dialogue is written using age-appropriate language and vivid details, and the emotion of the younger sister will resonate with the reader).

            “I’m going to help make mochi,” I said to Sophie.
            She kept picking at her orange nails. “You’re too little. You’ll only get in the way.”
            “I’m big enough.” Yesterday I noticed I came up to Sophie’s chin. During the summer I came up to her shoulder. I was growing!
            “Just wait your turn,” she said.
            This year, Sophie would sit at the table in the backyard with Mom and all the other women. She would probably get to sit right next to Obaachan, our grandma who came from Japan every year for the holidays.
            “Stop pouting and finish cleaning,” Sophie said. “You’ll get your turn at mochi-tsuki when you’re ten.”
            I wished there was something I could do before her. Something she could never do.

* * *

Enjoy writing dialogue during ChaBooChaLite 2018! Happy creating, and I look forward to reading the dialogue in your future chapter books!

Melissa Stoller is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection - Book One: Return to Coney Island and Book Two: The Liberty Bell Train Ride (Clear Fork Publishing, 2017 and 2019); and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush and Ready, Set, GOrilla! (Clear Fork, Fall 2018). She is also the co-author of The Parent-Child Book Club: Connecting With Your Kids Through Reading (HorizonLine Publishing, 2009). Melissa is a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, an Assistant for the Children’s Book Academy, an Admin for The Debut Picture Book Study Group, and a volunteer with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators/MetroNY. Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer and editor, and early childhood educator. She lives in New York City with her husband, three daughters, and one puppy. When not writing or reading, Melissa can be found exploring NYC with family and friends, traveling, and adding treasures to her collections.




Today's prize is a copy of Write To Be Heard - Write Like You Talk: Help With Voice, Character, Dialogue... and more by Aaron D. Gansky. If you are a signed up member of ChaBooCha Lite, the only thing you need to do to be entered to win this prize is comment on this blog post. Winner will be chosen by a random number generator on September 30th, 2018.

Saturday 15 September 2018

Half-way there! #ChabooCha #ChaBooChaLite

We are already halfway through the challenge. How is everyone doing? (Let me know in the comments, please.)

I know that many of you have struggled. There have been all sorts of weather events going on around the world, and if you happen to be near any of them, I'm sure it has made this challenge even more difficult as you focus has had to be elsewhere. Likewise, I know some of you have struggled with health issues, with family issues, with financial issues and with other distractions. I get it. Writing can be HARD.

So if you have stuck with us this far, I am truly impressed. It isn't easy for any of us, but getting those words down and our story written is worth it. I promise you, it will be worthwhile.

Just keep writing. Make a habit out of it.

image found on Pinterest here

Wednesday 12 September 2018

"Working" Covers Can Help You Write your Story #ChaBooChaLite #ChaBooCha

The above picture is of a working book cover I made for the novel I was writing a couple of years ago during Blog Your Book in 30 Days and Camp NaNoWriMo.  It is not the official cover for the book. The final book cover will probably look nothing like the above image. But it was fun to make and having an image to have in place for the book cover gave me a bit of a kick in the pants to keep writing.

During NaNoWriMo, members are encouraged to create a book cover to use as a thumbnail image for their project. I think it can be just as useful during ChaBooCha. Having a working cover is an inspirational tool to use. Your story is calling to you to write it and now it has ammunition in the form of an image to call to you with.

Another trick, if you don't want to make a simple image for your book cover, or you don't have the necessary skills to do so, is to look up images of people who look like the vision you have for your characters.

Below are some random images of men and women, found easily on royalty-free image sites such as

Of course, for children's books, you will most likely find images of younger people such as children or teens.

 And here are some "working" images I made for some of my children's NaNoWriMo stories a couple of years (two of whom used the covers for their published books):

Just make sure that you don't spend so much time on this that you don't get your writing done. It can be a fun and inspirational tool to use during your writing, but, used incorrectly, it can also become another distraction that keeps you from writing.



I create book covers, sometimes with more success than other times, using photo-manipulation, with your photos and/or stock images. Whether or not I can create your vision depends on what your vision for your cover is. I'm offering to create a "working"cover for one prize winner. If you are signed up for ChaBooCha Lite, just comment on this blog post in order to be entered to win. Winner will be chosen by a random number generator on the 30th of this month.

Friday 7 September 2018

Naming Characters by Melissa Gijsbers #ChaBooChaLite #ChaBooCha

Naming Characters

Coming up with names for your characters can be hard. To be honest, there are days when I think that, if I’m having trouble naming a character in a book, it’s amazing that my kids were ever named!
There are a number of ways I try to name a character:

Use the first name that comes to mind

Every now and again, a name will just come to me as I write the story, and it works. If it doesn’t, I figure I can always change the name later if I need to.

Baby Name Books & Apps

Books and apps can be useful when you are trying to find a name that is a specific ethnicity, or you are looking for a name that has a specific meaning. When all else fails, close your eyes, open the book, and put your finger on the page, and use the name closest to your finger!

Top 10 or 100 Lists

If you are looking for a name from a certain year or era, then doing a search for the top names of that year or decade, can give you a lot of great ideas for names you may not have thought about before. There are also lists of the worst names in a year, or strangest names.

Name Generators

These can be useful if you are looking for names for a fantasy or science fiction story or are looking for a name that is a bit different from names that would appear in books, apps, or popular name lists.

Ask for suggestions

When I’m really stuck, I will post something on Social Media asking for suggestions. The ideas that come back may be used in the story or may point me in the right direction so I can find a name for my character. I also know of people who have auctioned off the opportunity to name a character in a story!

Names of people you know

As much as I try not to do this, you could name characters after people you know. This can be both a good and bad thing as people you know could take it as a positive or a negative, especially if you name a less than pleasant character after them!

What are some of the other ways you come up with names of characters?


Melissa Gijsbers is an Australian author, blogger, and speaker who has been a member of the Chapter Book Challenge since it began. She currently has three chapter books published, all written and edited during the challenge. When she’s not writing or running workshops, she is caring for two teenage boys and working in the family business. You can find her online at and



Today's prize is a copy of Shakespeare: A Book of Quotations. If you are a signed-up member of the Chapter Book Challenge or ChaBooCha Lite, just comment on this blog post in order to entered for the prize. Winner will be chosen by a random number generator on the 30th of September 2018.

Saturday 1 September 2018

Welcome to ChaBooCha Lite 2018! #ChaBooCha #ChaBooChaLite

Today is the first day of ChaBooCha Lite 2018!

ChaBooCha Lite is another chance to write an early reader, chapter book, middle grade book or YA novel within a month. The premise is the same as the premise of March's Chapter Book Challenge. (The Lite challenge will have less prizes and less guest blog posts.) You will still be trying to write your book during the 30 days of the month, but instead of running in March, ChaBooCha Lite runs in September.

It's also completely acceptable for you to finish a book previously begun or to edit one you have already written, as long as you complete the work in September.

It's another chance to challenge yourself, and to give yourself a deadline for writing your book. Want to join us? Sign up here.

If you'd like to add this year's ChaBooCha Lite badge to your website or blog, right-click the size of badge you'd like below and save it to your computer to add at your convenience.